A new study from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business reports that, “feelings of stress may be lowered if they are experienced alongside another person feeling similar emotions.” In short, actually labeling the emotion and saying something about it diffuses the emotion.
To illustrate this point, I recently appeared on a national talk show with a panel of six other women. We were all excited, yet nervous about the appearance. As we were waiting offstage getting last minute make up and hair touch ups, one brave member of our group said, “Man, I’m nervous.” You could immediately see the rest of the group let out a collective sigh of relief and it prompted a very healthy discussion about how we were feeling.
In addition, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler write that, “Social networks have clusters of happy and unhappy people within them that reach out to three degrees of separation…Each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%.” Research being done in the field of neuroscience also shows that emotions are contagious. “Mirror neurons” in our brains literally catch another person’s mood, much like catching a cold.
So, if you’re in a group of stressed out folks, say something about it!
Christakis, N.A., & Fowler, J. Social networks and happiness. Retrieved on November 25, 2013, from http://edge.org/conversation/social-networks-and-happiness.